Dubai: ‘Americanism’ Under the Arabian Sun, By Jimanze Ego-Alowes
…to the extent that Dubai is a miracle, is the extent that is accounted for by the structures at play and not the parties at work. It is this internal structure or software, that is a minimum condition for the greatness of any modern union. And Dubai got it after America. The fact is that without that software, no union may come to fruitfulness in modern eras.
Before America, all political unions or states were constructed after the empire model. That is: the minorities and other such weak parties were placed under the Thucydides curse. They were condemned to suffer what they must.
America, however, was the first such arrangement to institutionally protect the weaker ones – via the senatorial equality of all states without regards to population, etc. That is, America was the first such union in history to distinguish between an empire built to internally self-consume itself, and a nation built to internally self-sustain itself. The collapse of the modern Russian empire is a moral tale.
Even more importantly, American historical generosity towards its own weak and prospective new others propelled a new America. Immigrants poured in and were as welcome – in nearly all cases – as lost brothers. This others or immigrants-invitingness, next triggered a most salutary effect, or overflow, on the American psyche*.
For instance, America has the best minority shareholders’ corporate protection laws of all nations. This we conjecture is an obvious overflow from her political sagacity towards minority persons or powers – within her American state. And this ensured, as in perhaps no other nation, the growth of her stock exchanges. Also, Americans openly welcomed others, including the persecutions-fleeing Jews, as if they were long lost cousins. No other nation came near America in this. The consequences of these two of many others, for instance, accounts in a great measure for the greatness that is America. From Albert Einstein to Levi Strauss, from the New York Stock Exchange to Silicon Valley venture capitalists, this idea of playing it together as teammates, of admitting the new comer as an old buddy, has helped make America greater than any competitor nation. That is the real American software at work and play.
So it must amount to unfathomable blockheadedness to design an empire-model union or country, after America. And this, despite the example and unmatched successes of America, which her European cousins are copying.
This is the point at which we may come to a certain popular issue with Nigerians. Most times, one reads of fashionably ignorant Nigerians who point to the United Arab Emirates/Dubai as a model; their model for national development. For them, the model of Dubai is in its great leadership and that is what Nigeria should copy. Of course, they get the Dubai story so completely wrong that it is laughable.
…each United Arab Emirate had equal supreme weight as any other, just as the American states senatorially. That was the representation for each emirate, as it hitherto existed, before their federation. The representation, it is important to restate, is not just spatial representations. It is representativeness of the given Emiratis or groups of citizens therein.
Just like Leo Tolstoy would say because these persons think they know it all, there is not much you can do to educate them otherwise. But we state as follows: Dubai is essentially America under the Arab Desert Sun. To repeat, what works in Dubai is in its Americanisms. It is just that our bleeding-hearts worrywarts are so blinded they cannot see the logic of Americanism in the Dubai miracle. The fact is, to the extent that Dubai is a miracle, is the extent that is accounted for by the structures at play and not the parties at work. It is this internal structure or software, that is a minimum condition for the greatness of any modern union. And Dubai got it after America. The fact is that without that software, no union may come to fruitfulness in modern eras. Simply put, the era of empire-like states is passé, and cannot endure the existential habitat that is modernity. Nigerians see Russia and ronu.
What Americanism Did Dubai Copy?
First, some details. The United Arab Emiratis are culturally and genetically closer to one another than differing Nigerians ever were. The United Arab Emiratis, one can also conjecture, are closer to one another than founding Americans were to themselves. The Emiratis are all Arabs, are all Arabic speaking and are Muslims. Yet, they had the good and redeeming sense to allocate supreme representative powers after the manner of America. That is on the basis of the equality of regional Emiratis or persons as a group, without regard to the attendant population. In other words, each United Arab Emirate had equal supreme weight as any other, just as the American states senatorially. That was the representation for each emirate, as it hitherto existed, before their federation. The representation, it is important to restate, is not just spatial representations. It is representativeness of the given Emiratis or groups of citizens therein. It merely happened as with American peoples/states, that the Emirati people cross-matched the given Emirati space, which is here called Emirates.
Federal Supreme Council
Council meetings: The Federal Supreme Council meets four times each year and its meetings are often on an informal basis. Attending the meetings of the Board are the seven rulers of the emirates of the federation or those acting in their emirate in the case of their absence. Each has one vote in the Council’s resolutions.
In fact, the distribution of the United Arab Emirates’ population affirms most sharply a matter that needs emphasising. This is that it is each Emirate Emiratis, not just the Emirate as geography, that is in representation and being represented.
The fact of this is important because of what this Americanism did to nascent America and is doing to Dubai. American existential habitat, a.k.a constitution, is so others-inviting that America is the only country where non-native born Americans can be anything, save the president. There are the American exclusive examples, of Dr. Henry Kissinger and Arnold Schwarzenegger. No other nation can boast of such tolerance as much as this author knows.
Following America but after its own idioms, Dubai is almost visa-free, if one can so say. It is open, even if not to immigration, at least to tourism and a sense of being one huge emporium. That is, Dubai is the free coming together of different peoples. In Dubai, for the so inclined, you can club, dance and sip alcohol or pray to Allah. Perhaps, she is the only such Arab nation. And this is as American as a melting pot metaphor can get in the Arab desert.
…if the United Arab Emirates/Dubai had not forged a viable ship of state, she won’t have turned up the economic miracle it is, no matter the leadership. The point is, the first lore of economic prosperity is its politics; it is political. It demands an organic, that is self-sustaining, not imposed, political order, as a minimum precondition.
By Americanism, we don’t mean American as in and of America. It is used in the sense of Arabic, or better, Indian numerals. Indian mathematical sages were the first to conceive and create the idea of positional notations. The Arabs, or properly the Persians, were the “first” to copy and “export it.” The fact is that the Indian numerals wear well in all spaces and counties. It is universal.
Likewise, Americanism is a universal idea and wears just as well across lands and oceans. It is only that it was first founded by the Americans, actually by the Europeans. It is Americans who first took on the bandit’s courage to practice it. Later they exported it, but by default not prompts.
It is safe to state, that if the United Arab Emirates/Dubai peoples, like Nigerians, didn’t have the “good humors” to ballast their ship of state, mere sectarianism would have led them low and out. The unseen point being that the cost of an unviable ship of state is not just political, or better, existential instability, but underdevelopment.
That is: if the United Arab Emirates/Dubai had not forged a viable ship of state, she won’t have turned up the economic miracle it is, no matter the leadership. The point is, the first lore of economic prosperity is its politics; it is political. It demands an organic, that is self-sustaining, not imposed, political order, as a minimum precondition.
The point of it all is this. What sails is the ship of state? If it is not well constructed and ballasted, it cannot sail into the blue oceans, of opportunities, economic, technological and otherwise.
A developmental economist and newspaper columnist, Jimanze Ego-Alowes writes from Lagos.
The foregoing is excerpted from The University-Media Complex As Nigeria’s Foremost Amusement Chain (The Stone Press, Lagos; 2018). For full excerpt: https://africanomics.org/an-african-mind-rereads-aspects-of-american-constitutionalism/